Petitions for (and against) a 24 hours Skytrain

A while ago I signed up for the Facebook group the petition to keep the Skytrain open 24-hours (personally I find these thing to be kind of weak but whatever, it’s easy right?). It has always bugged me that a system designed to run nearly automatically is shut down for a measly 4 hours right as bars and clubs are closing. In fact, it seems particularly unfair to those who work in Vancouver’s night clubs and bars. Generally, it seems to me that anything that could help get this city better transit is a good thing.

Today I was just checking on where the petition was going and if it was getting any media traction when I ran into this post. As it mentions there is also a counter petition Facebook group, the petition against the petition to keep the Skytrain open 24 hours. So far (and it’s been months) it’s really kind of a joke. I mean, the actual petition has over 30,000 members, while they have a measly… err, I mean empowered… 30.

What I found even funnier than this was the content of actual blog article. The author confidently refers to the petitioners as a “fringe group”, yeah, and I suppose the 30 people against are “the silent majority”, what a joke. He then goes on to deride the Facebook petition while at the same time espousing the Facebook anti-petition. Slick…

Even worse than the poor math skills and mild hypocrisy were the arguments put forth by the anti-petitioners against keeping the trains running:

*** It would require hiring more security
* It would require hiring more staff to run the SkyTrain (they don’t run by themselves you know)
*** Crime around these areas would go up
* It only helps people living around the SkyTrain
*** The noise from SkyTrains running at late hours would not excite those who live along the route
* What next? 24 hour buses? 24 hour SeaBus?
***** If the Trains are running 24 hours, when will engineers do repairs?

The blog article suggests these are, _“All valid points ignored by the first petition.” _That got an eyebrow raise from me. Valid? hmmm… sigh, ok lets begin then.

These arguments seem to all boil down to 4 things: it would cost the city a whole lot more (than running 20 hours), it would create more crime, it would be noisy and it would be impossible to maintain. I will ignore “it would only help people living around the SkyTrain” because that’s just stupid. I will also ignore the statement about the 24 hours buses because apparently they haven’t taken one of the cities night buses yet (I’m betting they’ve never taken transit at all).

First, it is clearly going to cost pretty much the same for 4 more hours as it does for any four hours of the previous 24-hours. This is kind of obvious, well obvious to those who can apply basic common sense. The Skytrain is designed to run with minimal staff, it is operated remotely and doesn’t need drivers, it requires only a few operators and as for security, well, Skytrain security is largely a joke anyways.

The crime argument is an easy one to make. The fact that crime occurs on the Skytrains at all is all the proof someone needs to put this fallacy together. I mean, it’s true too, I just linked an example in the last paragraph, didn’t I? The problem is, if this made sense then by extension it must make sense to just shut it down altogether. I mean it would prevent these crime right? Obviously not, the truth is crime happens in cities and it isn’t limited to the Skytrain trains and stations. Better security, surveillance and enforcement is the obvious solution here no matter how many hours it runs.

The noise aspect does confuse me a bit, I certainly don’t live right beside the trains, but do these people sleep for four hours a night? I bet not a single one of the 30 angry men and women lives near a Skytrain line either – well their fourth point kind of gives that away doesn’t it? Which one is it? It will only help people who live near the Skytrain _or it will _only annoy them, both I guess. The Skytrain is probably one of the quietest mass transit systems I have ever seen and it actually slows down through sections as it passes by people apartments downtown.

The last one is the best one of course, “if the Trains are running 24 hours, when will engineers do repairs?” _This appears to be the same excuse Translink is going with. _Lame… NY manages to run 24 hour mass transit. The London Tube gets by with 1 hour of downtime, which seems reasonable enough to me.

Perhaps the anti-petitioners are right when they say, “Experienced rail cities like London and Tokyo start and stop trains around the same time as Vancouver,” w_ell, except the “same time” part. I think we can agree here though, an hour of downtime would be an agreeable compromise. If instead it was, _the petition to keep the Skytrain running 23 hours a day, maybe all sides of this argument would be satisfied.

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